Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Erie Times E-Edition Article-Race is on to use expiring vaccines

Posted by M. C. on August 1, 2021

The science is settled but the expiration date isn’t. Don’t worry because the FDA knows more about expiration dates than the chemical plant that makes it. Feeling safer?

“The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday sent a letter to shot maker Johnson & Johnson declaring that the doses remain safe and effective for at least six months when properly stored.”

Expiration dates extended, doses saved


Hundreds of thousands of COVID- 19 vaccine doses were saved from the trash after U.S. regulators extended their expiration date for a second time, part of a nationwide effort to salvage expiring shots to battle the nation’s summer surge in infections.

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday sent a letter to shot maker Johnson & Johnson declaring that the doses remain safe and effective for at least six months when properly stored. The FDA’s move gives the shots an extra six weeks as public officials press more Americans to get inoculated.

Similar efforts are happening in multiple states as public health officials try to ensure that soon-to-expire shots are put into arms before they must be discarded.

The surge in infections is largely due to the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, which has


The FDA sent a letter to shot maker Johnson & Johnson declaring that the doses remain safe and effective for at least six months. AP FILE

Continued from Page 1A

spread rapidly, particularly among unvaccinated people. Inoculation rates have climbed only slightly after a steep fall from their April peak.

“It’s a critically important time. We have children headed back to school in just a few weeks’ time,” said Juliann Van Liew, director of the public health department in Wyandotte County, Kansas.

Federal health officials have shipped an additional 8 million doses of the J&J shot to states that have not yet been used, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccinetracking website. The company did not share expiration dates.

States also report that many Pfizer and Moderna doses are approaching expiration, which is set at six months from the manufacturing date. In Louisiana, about 100,000 Pfizer doses are set to expire in about a week.

Governors are pleading with the public to get vaccinated, and some are offering cash incentives such as $100 payments in New Mexico and New York City, among other places.

Some states set up marketplaces for shot providers or dedicated staff to redistributing about-to-expire vaccines to places that need them. Such efforts are underway in New Jersey, Washington and Wisconsin.

In Iowa and North Dakota, officials say they send vaccines approaching expiration to locations where they are most likely to be used.

“We have a lot of interest from the public in receiving J&J, so if we find doses that may go unused, we will transfer them to providers in need,” said Molly Howell, North Dakota’s immunization director.

Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy director for COVID-19 response for the Washington state Department of Health, said officials want the doses used as efficiently as possible.

“Otherwise, we’re working with our providers to move them around, or, of course, the federal government to get them to other places that need it,” she said.

The J&J vaccine was eagerly anticipated because it involves just one shot and has easy refrigeration requirements, but use of the vaccine has been hurt by several rare side effects.

This month, U.S. health regulators added a warning about links to a potentially dangerous neurological reaction. That followed a break in its use in April after the shot was linked to a rare blood clot disorder. Government health advisers said the benefits of the shot still outweigh the risks.

Also in April, a Baltimore vaccine factory was shut down by the FDA due to contamination problems, forcing the company to trash the equivalent of tens of millions of doses being made under contract for Johnson & Johnson.

Pfizer and Moderna have already supplied more than enough doses to vaccinate all eligible Americans. More than 150 million Americans have been fully vaccinated with the companies’ two-dose shots. By comparison, just 13 million, or 9%, have been vaccinated with the J&J shot.

Nearly 164 million people have been vaccinated, according to the CDC, just over 49% of the U.S. population.

Be seeing you

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